A Brit, a Yank and a Kitchen

Sunday, January 24

Fried Gator

One reason to love living in Florida...and in this case... befriending a very unique breed of hunter.

After our regular outing to the Central Florida Highland Games last weekend, and playing at the archery range for a little bit, I decided I'd like to get back into archery. So I hopped in my little car and scooted myself over to an Archery Shop I'd driven past several times.

After picking out a bow (and noticing some beautiful hand-made ones)... testing it, and deciding to buy it, I paused and looked at all of the trophies on the walls.

Some of you might not know I work with leather, so I thought to myself, they must do something with these hides. So combined with the fact that I had just had a conversation with a Highland Cattle farmer about how he has to waste his beautiful hides because he can't find a tanner in the country to make it worth anything to him... but said he would sell untanned hides to me if I could learn to, or find someone, to tan them for me.. I was spurred to ask.

And out from the back of the shop came a most unique fellow. Not only does he tan all sorts of hides, from deer to gator.. and even more bizarre, fish and frog.... he even collects bark from trees to make his own tannins, as well as builds bows from the horns and bones of the animals his family hunts.

Truly.. nothing of the animals these people hunt go to waste. The way it should be. I love these people. And thats not because he offered to teach me tanning... or hooked me up with some fresh gator.... which is what this post is actually all about! Who'da thunk it right?

So yea... after about 2 hours of awesome conversation with this gem of a man.... and we got on the subject of cooking... he rushed off and back again with a frozen chunk of fresh wild Florida gator.

Very cool. I had only ever had silly little "gator bites"... made from farmed gator... that probably wasn't even raised in Florida and was god knows how old. Leaving little in the flavor department.

This gator was fantastic.... and did not "taste like chicken".... if I could compare it to anything, the texture was more like frog... and had a flavor closer to catfish... which you probably know I adore, since we eat it every single week.

I cooked it pretty much like I would fry chicken (or catfish!)....

Marinated it in 2 beaten eggs with a generous amount of cayenne and garlic powder for about 2 hours.

Then, dredged each piece in salted and peppered flour and fried til nice and golden in some oil in my iron pan.

I also made the dipping sauce.... about a cup of mayo, squirt of ketchup, spoonful of brown mustard, 2 spoonfuls of horseradish, several shakes of Franks hotsauce, some more cayenne, and a few shakes of garlic powder. Yea... I didnt get too specific, just kept messing with it til I got a flavor I liked. :)

Hopefully everyone gets to meet a person as awesome as this guy!


Anonymous rach said...

I'm loving your blog, I have never had gator, though I would like to, Travis had some and said it was tough, but that might have been the prep, the only time I had the chance was a restaurant that boasted roadkill on the menu, and I must admit I was a little skeered, is your sauce anything like zaxbys, pls don't be offended by the comparison, but they look similar and it looks fantastic

8:51 PM  
Blogger Lea said...

lol Thanks Rachel!! yay!!

If its tough its definitely been overcooked, like any meat... you cook it wrong, its gonna be tough! Gator is an extremely lean meat so it overcooks very easily.

Also... if the gator meat was improperly stored, freezing, thawing and refreezing (even accidentally, say, by transporting it) it will damage the meat and will become tough now matter how awesome a cook you are. I've encountered this problem with frog. I imagine this happens alot with meats like this where it has to be shipped and is not sold quickly.... unless you know a hunter, fresh is hard to come by.

Ours turned out wonderfully tender. :)

Funny story: I have actually had roadkill (wild boar)... though I was unaware of this fact until after the meal was finished, when the cook proudly announced he hit it with his truck. Guess I could see his thought process... why let it go to waste... he hit it, it was fresh.... lol

Gotta love living in the south.

No offense taken, I have no idea what zaxbys is!! I'd compare it to the bloomin onion dip at Outback. :)

11:08 AM  
Anonymous wine blog said...

There's a really great Aussie wine bistro near by my house that serve fried gator bites! They are delicious and kinf of taste like chicken! Cheers~

3:07 AM  

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